A Swiss air show adventure at the top of a mountain

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.

If you follow my blog, you know that we were in Parma, Italy to attend a huge antiques fair, at the invitation of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Southeast (IACC) and the Fiere di Parma. After the show, we decided to take a side trip to Switzerland — land of the Alps and infinite scenic beauty.

The peak is 30 minutes away.  Look for the white porta potties at the top, in the distance

The peak is 30 minutes away. Look for the white porta potties at the top, in the distance

Trying to figure out what to do on our trip, I searched the Internet and found out there would be a Swiss air show nearby on the dates we would be in Switzerland. Did you know Switzerland has an active military? I didn’t. Everyone’s heard of Swiss Army knives, but that was just a name. Why do they need a military? They never fight any wars. They guard the pope, but I didn’t think they do anything else. Seems like a good job to join the Swiss military, knowing you’re never going to fight in a war. However, domestic search and rescue, as well as peacekeeping missions around the world, are part of their job.

The show was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, October 9th and 10th. The concierge at our hotel called to get information and found out we could go on Tuesday, October 8th. It was a practice day for the show, unadvertised, but still the same show. Great! We went.

The crowd at the peak is awaiting the start of the show

The crowd at the peak is awaiting the start of the show

All we would have to do is get to the top of the Axalp mountain. No problem! The road to Axalp was closed on Wednesday and Thursday, but not on Tuesday. So off we drove up a winding mountain road to the Axalp. Everyone was prepared for a crowd, even on Tuesday. We had to pay 12 Swiss francs (CHF) to park. (They don’t use the euro in Switzerland.) Then we stopped for some breakfast in a lovely local restaurant, and proceeded to the chair lift, also 12 CHF each. You see how easy it is to get to the top? They even gave us free Swiss Army caps for the cold at the top and ear plugs for the jet noise. The chair lift was a long ride, so how far could the top be?

The show in underway

The show in underway

We reached the end of the chair lift about 15 minutes later to find we still had a hike of 90 minutes to get to the top. Nobody bothered to give us any details. In the US, trails are usually marked easy, moderate, or difficult. In Switzerland, there are mountains everywhere, so they don’t bother much with trails or markings. You’re Swiss, mountains are a way of life, so get on with it. By the way, what is the next designation after difficult? There was no path, nothing flat, nothing smooth. We were in the clouds at that elevation and the grassy surface was getting muddy, making it even more difficult to climb. After 30 minutes or so, the terrain changed from moderate to steep. We had to stop every few steps to recover because of the altitude and because we weren’t in shape. It was exhausting, with no guarantee there would even be a show. If the fog didn’t clear, there would be no show. I had confidence the overhead sun would burn off the fog by the 2 PM start time. At around 7000 feet, some blue sky appeared and then the weather got better. By the time we reached the summit (which took us 3 hours!!), we had a spectacular view. We were above the clouds, sitting in a mountain meadow, looking at the Alps. There was a concession stand and portable toilets at the top — pretty classy.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

The announcer (they were set up with loudspeakers) told us we could set our watches for 2 PM, for the first flyby. True to his word, the first jet streaked by at 2:00 PM. The show was underway and it was great fun. The announcer thoughtfully made some announcements in English. After 30 minutes, the fog rolled back in and then it seemed we switched from fog to clear every 10 minutes. The 90-minute show was cut short, but at least we got to see some of it.

Lia is having a tough time on the way down

Lia is having a tough time on the way down

Now for the good part — going down. If we thought going up was difficult, it was a piece of cake compared to going down. Now we were completely in the clouds. The condensation was dripping from my hair. The path down was even more slippery. Lia fell a few times and was so miserable, she almost cried. One Swiss gentleman saw Lia’s distress and insisted on helping her down the entire climb to the chair lift. I insisted on buying beers for everyone, including the gentleman and his two friends.

We were in the middle of the clouds on the way down

We were in the middle of the clouds on the way down

That was it for the mountain, the Swiss air show, and Switzerland. Lia had had enough. She wanted out, so we left a day early to return to Italy. Switzerland is a beautiful place, with great people, but it was time to leave. It’s also very expensive. A New York $20 Thai lunch was $60 in Switzerland.

Now we’re off to Chicago to exhibit at the Winnetka Community House, this Friday to Sunday, October 18-20. The show opens to the public at 11 AM on Friday and continues until 5 PM on Sunday. We recently bought some great items, all of which we’ll have at the show, so please come and visit!

Wonderful 12" Daum rain scenic vase, just in

Wonderful 12″ Daum rain scenic vase, just in

Click here to view my new website and look around. We always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on our website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps.

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